Muscatine FFA’s Livestock Team: Tyler Moeller, Grace Williams, Ava Daufeldt, and Alexis Moeller.

Though many people think about Future Farmers of America (FFA) competitions taking place at the county and state fairs, students in the organization compete in a number of different categories throughout the year. On Saturday, August 25th, members of Muscatine’s chapter of FFA competed and placed highly in both the Livestock and Meat Evaluation competitions held at Iowa State University.
The livestock competition challenges participants to think like judges and to identify what makes a top-notch show animal. Ashley Wiebe, one of the leaders of Muscatine’s FFA and an agriculture teacher at both Central and West Middle Schools, explains that to compete in this event, students must learn about the characteristics of four major livestock groups, (cows, goats, sheep, and swine) and identify which traits make animals more desirable and which breeds farmers and judges prefer based on their qualities. To demonstrate their learning, participants must take a general knowledge test as well as grade nine classes of four animals from best to worst. For three of the classes, students must give judges an oral explanation of why they ranked the animals the way they did. To do well in this portion, students’ evaluations must closely match those given by actual judges.
While Muscatine had a relatively young team, the group made a good showing. They placed ninth out of fifty teams. Wiebe considered this quite an achievement and looks forward to even more success in the future.
While the livestock competition asked students to judge live animals, the meats evaluation contest instead had students learning about the foods different animals give us. Wiebe outlined this competition as a chance for students to learn about the meat industry, what meats come from each animal, what makes each different cut of meat good, and how to prepare them. Similar to the livestock competition, students must take a general knowledge test and identify various cuts of meat. Then they must grade actual meat based on two standards. The first, quality grading, involves evaluating a cut of meat based on how desirable consumers would find it. The second, yield grading, has students determine how much usable meat a butcher could get from a particular animal.
“The meats team had an extremely good day,” said Wiebe. All its members individually placed in the top fifteen with Jocee Boynton placing fifth, Allen Tian placing eleventh, Jamie Sprague placing twelfth, and Hope Reichert placing fourteenth. As a team, the group earned the prestigious Reserve State Champions with a gold rating. Because of their high ranking, they will compete in the Denver Western Roundup in January.
Additionally, dual FFA and 4H member Dailyn Garrett participated in the 4H side of the competition, as FFA only allows teams of four to participate. Garrett placed every bit as well as her FFA teammates, earning fifth place as an individual.
As the summer FFA competition season wraps up, Muscatine’s FFA members look forward to the series of fall and spring competitions ahead of them. Across the many categories they compete in, they can expect great achievements for the year ahead.